Best Airline Credit Card for Earning Miles : Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- 50,000 miles sign-up bonus.
- 48,000 miles for everyday spend.
Americans are obsessed with credit cards. About three quarters of all Americans have at least one card in their wallet. Many of the most popular cards offer cardholders rewards for making purchases, but not all rewards cards are created equally.
Figuring out which card is right for you can be overwhelming since there are so many different options on the market. While one solution is to get a straightforward cashback card, travel cards that offer rewards, like co-branded airline credit cards, can be a lot more valuable.
Airline cards earn some of the best rewards, including free flights and upgrades. More than that, they typically offer a variety of perks and benefits that are great for flyers and travelers in general. You might get complimentary or discounted airport lounge access, free checked bags, priority seating, elite status, car rental coverage, travel insurance and more.
If you fly often, or you’re planning a dream vacation, it’s worth getting an airline credit card. We’re here to help you figure out which one you should get and how to maximize the value of the miles you’ll earn.
April 2018: Best Travel Rewards and Air Miles Credit Cards
Unlimited 1.5X rewards on every purchase
The Discover it Miles card is wonderful for two types of people. The first, and most obvious, is for someone looking for a single credit card that’s easy to use and that can do it all. The Discover it Miles card is a great option because it earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and redemptions areone cent per mile toward any purchase. Plus thereare a couple of other nice benefits, like $30 in annual Wi-Fi credits and no foreign transaction fees. As a no-fee card, all of that is essentially free.
The second type of person that the Discover it Miles card is a great option for is someone who is looking to truly maximize rewards. The Discover it is basically a no-brainer for the first year because all miles are doubled , meaning that it effectively earns 3 miles per dollar spent (1.5 when you purchase and 1.5 at the end of the year). After the first year it deserves a spot in the wallet of someone who wants to maximize rewards for purchases not included in the bonus earning categories of their other rewards credit cards.
60,000 bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
If you fly American Airlines, the AA credit card can be a great value for the money. The sign-up bonus in conjunction with the waived annual fee for the first year makes it a risk-free proposition. And 60,000 AAdvantage miles can take you on a round-trip journey to any destination in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America.
Then there are the perks and benefits you’ll enjoy at no additional cost, such as free checked bags and reduced mileage awards. Even double miles for American Airlines purchases is a worthy benefit, considering how hard it is to earn AAdvantage miles since the cheapest seats now earn only half the standard miles.
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
With a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles and the ongoing earning power of two miles for every dollar spent, there’s a good case for owning the Venture card. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year and you’ll have $460 to spend on travel once you’ve made the required $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. That makes this card a solid contender for your everyday spending. However, if you’re not going to be able to spend a minimum of $3,000 a year on the card, you would be better off selecting a card that has no annual fee.
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days
The short answer is absolutely. Depending on your travel and spending habits, this card may or not make sense for you after the first year when you start paying the annual fee, but earning 40,000 miles after meeting the minimum spend and earning 2X miles on all purchases are tremendous benefits. Not only that, but if this becomes your go-to card, miles will rack up fast, and with the 5 percent redemption bonus, that’s like earning 2.1 percent back on every purchase, every day. This card is just as good as any other cashback card currently on the market.
25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months
If you’re in the market for a travel rewards cards with fantastic earning potential, the Premier Rewards Gold card is it. In fact, no other Membership Rewards card offers such significant reward rates. Additionally, you can earn 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months.
The points can be transferred to partners or used as cash through the Amex travel center, which offers a choice for purchasing a ticket with points when award seats aren’t available. Flexibility in both earning and redeeming is one of the strongest features of this card.
50,000 bonus points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
You can get excellent value out of ThankYou points, particularly if you transfer them to airlines and redeem for expensive premium cabin tickets. If you are a traveler that often books the cheapest economy class ticket, then there can also be strong value in redeeming points through the ThankYou program’s travel portal thanks to the 25 percent discount offered by this card.
If you are interested in domestic award travel or simple award redemptions, this card may prove to be too complex. Instead, consider cards with more domestic transfer partners. You may not get quite the same value for your points, but there will be more availability and easier redemptions.
20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
If you’re looking for a no-fee rewards card that offers a solid sign-up bonus and hassle-free redemptions, than the the VentureOne card from Capital One is a great option. You’ll get 20,000 miles worth $200 for spending just $1,000 in 90 days, plus you’ll earn a generous 1.25 miles per dollar for every purchase.
Getting the card is a risk-free proposition because it won’t cost you a penny. Whatever miles you earn with the card are pure profit because there aren’t any fees. You can even use the card while traveling internationally, since there are no foreign transaction fees either.
40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
The JetBlue Plus card is great for frequent JetBlue travelers. The annual anniversary bonus makes this card relatively cheap to have. For anyone that flies at least 2 to 3 times a year on JetBlue, the free checked bag benefit alone can pay for the card.
More than that, this card has significantly better earning power than most co-branded airline cards. With 2x points at both restaurants and grocery stores, plus an impressive 6x points for JetBlue purchases, there are a ton of opportunities to rack up the points and earn your next free flight quickly.
Compare all credit cards by RE® Value, which is an estimate of how much you will earn during first year of credit card use minus annual fees.
To figure out which credit card is best to earn miles or points toward travel rewards there are a couple of things to consider. While earning potential and flexibility are important, many cards come with additional benefits that are also very valuable. You need to consider not only if the card will work for you, earning miles that you’re going to be able to use, but also what additional perks you can take advantage of.
Welcome bonuses are the quickest way to earn points or miles quickly. Most cards come with some sort of bonus, though some are bigger than others. And they can vary for the same card over time. Sometimes they can go as high as 100,000 points, though they typically fall in the area of 30,000 points.Big bonuses are great, but there are a lot of other things to consider to. Perhaps most importantly, will you use the miles or points that you earn?
The earning potential of airline credit cards can vary a lot. Most of them will offer you bonus points or miles for making purchases that fall into certain categories.
Some credit cards have rotating bonus-earning categories, but in general you will get the best miles rewards on things related to travel. That doesn’t always mean getting on a plane. Dining out, for example, will often earn extra points with travel-related cards.
So get to know the bonus-earning categories that come with a card and consider if you spend a lot of money for those types of purchases. Remember, you can also get several cards that offer bonuses for different categories, allowing you to mix and match your spending.
Sometimes the benefits alone can make a card worth getting. Complimentary upgrades, lounge access and priority boarding, for instance, can make any trip much more comfortable.
Some cards offer annual companion passes as well. That’s potentially one of the most valuable perks available from airline credit cards. A companion pass will allow you to take a friend or family member with you on a round-trip flight for free or a huge discount.
Free checked bags are another potentially lucrative benefit that many of these cards offer. All domestic carriers except Southwest now charge a fee to check a bag. And increasingly they’re charging even for carry-ons. Many airline cards also allow any companions traveling on the cardholder’s itinerary to also check a bag for free. That can save you hundreds of dollars per flight.
Travel accident insurance, rental car coverage and lost or delayed baggage insurance are just some of the often overlooked benefits that come with many travel rewards cards. While you hope you won’t ever need to take advantage of this type of travel coverage, it’s reassuring to know that it’s there at no additional cost if you have the right card.
The annual fee is the big one. While there are many good no-fee cards available, paying to have a card isn’t always a bad idea. They often have the best benefits and earn the most miles. Just be sure that you’ll earn enough rewards or take advantage of enough benefits to cover the cost of the annual fee. Everything else is net profit.
Many cards will even waive the annual fee for the first year. That’s a no-risk opportunity to see if the card will work for you. And don’t forget that the sign-up bonus alone is often worth a lot more than the fee.
If you’re going to travel abroad, you’ll want a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. These fees are usually around 3 percent. That doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up fast. Plus, there are so many cards that don’t charge these fees they’re unnecessary to pay.
Interest rates can be important, too. It’s never a good idea to carry a balance on a credit card, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Look for the lowest interest rate possible, particularly if you plan to pay off a big purchase over time or transfer a balance from another card.
If you don’t mind doing a little research and being flexible with your travel plans, you can easily get more value for your points or miles if you use them for travel rewards instead of getting cash back. Why redeem 50,000 points for a $500 statement credit when you could pay for an entire vacation instead?
While you won’t always get a fantastic deal redeeming for flights, being strategic and planning your redemptions carefully will often result in a surprising amount of free travel. Let’s look at some ways to make your miles go a little further.
Whether your strategy involves flying on one airline most of the time and sticking to that carrier’s credit card, or having multiple cards for different purposes, you should be sure to use your cards in a way that will net the most miles. Consider each card’s bonus-earning categories and what you want to do with the miles once you earn them.
Don’t forget to look for promotions. They can be a great way to get more points or miles. You don’t have to wait for the offers to come to you, you can seek out these offers. Consider altering your travel plans or purchases so you can take advantage of these offers. Some promotions can give you as much as 10x points or miles.
Be flexible when booking travel. If you travel on off-peak days and hours your miles can go further. For instance, leaving on a Thursday and returning on a Tuesday will probably cost a lot less than flying on a Friday and returning on a Sunday. When booking your flights, look at the days and weeks before and after your ideal date to see if there are any bargains to be had.
Some carriers even have off-peak seasons and dates. The base rates for flights during those times are often notably lower than during the peak season. Study the airline’s award charts and see if moving your trip a few weeks can save you some miles.
Once you get to your destination, you can usually save on hotels and admission fees if you’re off-peak. It’s a win-win if you can make it work.
Become a member of every airline frequent flier programs. You can’t earn miles if you don’t. Plus you have nothing to lose since they’re free. As an added bonus, program members often get targeted offers and promotions that might earn bonus miles or give discounts. You may even get an offer for a new card with limited time offer for a big sign-up bonus.
And if you fly enough or spend enough money with the right credit card, you can earn elite status. With elite status comes all sorts of benefits. Many carriers give status holders more miles for flying, making it even more lucrative to be a member.
Pay your bills in full each month. If you pay interest on a balance, you can easily negate the value of your rewards.
While it’s important to meet any spending required to get a sign-up bonus, you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford. If you do, that bonus won’t be worth earning since you’ll probably end up paying more in interest than you’ll ever earn in free travel.
Having multiple cards can be part of a good strategy, but you shouldn’t overextend your budget. Spread out new cards so you can be sure to meet those minimum spends while paying off the monthly balance.